Coast Guard deployable specialized force unit holds change-of-command

SAN DIEGO — Coast Guard Maritime Security Response Team West hosted a change-of-command ceremony June 20 at Naval Air Station Island in San Diego.

Coast Guard Capt. Eric M. Cooper relieved Capt. Dwight E. Collins as the commanding officer during the ceremony.

Vice Adm. Linda Fagan, commander, U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area, presided over the time-honored military tradition, which represents a formal transfer of authority and responsibility for a unit from one commanding officer to another.

MSRT West is the Coast Guard’s short-notice maritime response and counter-terrorism unit on the west coast with personnel capable of conducting maritime threat response as part of a Coast Guard or interagency adaptive force package. MSRTs are capable of engaging in maritime security and law enforcement operations to support homeland security and defense missions at home or aboard. The members of this ready-assault force are trained in maritime security, law enforcement boarding procedures, force protection and environmental hazards response within a tactical law enforcement operation.

MSRT West’s command includes all three Coast Guard Regional Dive Lockers – RDL Pacific is located in Honolulu, RDL West is co-located with MSRT West in San Diego and RDL East is located in Portsmouth, Virginia.

Collins assumed command of Maritime Safety & Security Team San Diego in April 2016. Under Collins’ leadership, the unit tripled in size and capability. MSST San Diego officially changed its name Nov. 1, 2017, to MSRT West and achieved initial operating capability Feb. 2, 2018.

Cooper transferred to MSRT West from Pacific Area’s Operations division where he was responsible for current operations, deployable specialized forces and shore forces.

Previously, Cooper served as a deputy sector commander at Sector San Diego from July 2015 to July 2017 where he was responsible for all Coast Guard missions in San Diego and Imperial Counties out to 200 nautical miles offshore, as well as Arizona, southern Utah and southern Nevada.

Cooper’s previous assignments include serving at the White House as the director for maritime security and the director for Arctic region policy for the National Security Council from 2013 to 2015. Cooper also served as commanding officer of MSST San Diego; U.S. Northern Command as a maritime planner and crisis action team member in the operations directorate; executive officer of MSST Boston, Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, within the Naval Architecture Division of the Marine Safety Engineering and Standards Department; a U.S. delegate to the International Maritime Organization; operations officer aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Willow; and aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Chase where he enforced U.N. sanctions in the Northern Arabian Gulf.

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